THE BOTTOM LINE by Sandy James (May 6, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book)
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. Surviving a failed marriage and an illness that almost takes her life, high school teacher Mallory Hamilton needs the Ladies Who Lunch more than ever . . .
After a year of upheaval, Mallory has had her fill of change-with one exception. Her house is a disaster, and she wants it fixed. Hiring a contractor to finish the projects her ex-husband started will help her banish the past so she can return to the life she had before everything went awry. But her contractor is sexy, sweet, and single, which threatens the peaceful, solitary life Mallory has planned for herself.
Ben Carpenter has had a hard time raising his daughter without his ex-wife’s help. His new client’s projects will give him the extra income he needs, not to mention afternoons alone with a gorgeous woman. Though their attraction is undeniable, Ben sees the fear and pain hiding in Mallory’s beautiful eyes. But how can he help her if she won’t let him in? Ben can fix just about anything-but can he fix Mallory’s broken heart?
About Sandy James:
Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband. She’s a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.
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“How old are you, Mallory?”
“You really aren’t afraid to ask questions, are you?” Trying to lighten the somber mood that always accompanied a discussion of her disease, she grinned. “How old do I look?”
Was he growling? Good Lord, that’s all she needed: a guy with a bad temper and no sense of humor. “Do we really have to talk about this?” she asked.
The waiter interrupted, bringing them their entrees and grating more cheese on her fettuccine and Ben’s spaghetti Bolognese. She’d had no idea what “Bolognese” was when he’d ordered it, but from the looks of the food, it was a lot like regular meat sauce.
“Is there anything else I can get for you?” the waiter asked Ben.
“Mal?” Ben asked. “Need anything?”
“No, thanks.” She twirled her fork around, gathering the fettuccine into a small ball. “This looks wonderful. Nothing like fresh pasta. The box stuff always comes out kinda clumpy when I make it.”
“You need to add some olive oil to the water and wait to drop the pasta in until the water is already boiling. I always make my own pasta instead of using the crap they put in boxes.”
“You really do know how to cook! Most guys can only do one dish. Figured chili was yours.”
“You doubted me?”
She put her fork down against the side of her plate. “Look, Ben… I’m not sure exactly what I believe about you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“We’ve known each other a couple of months, but we don’t really know each other.”
“That’s why we’re on another date. To talk. To see if we click. After those kisses—”
So that was the catalyst, the kisses they’d shared. The ones she’d let get entirely out of hand.
Why were all men so preoccupied with sex?
Her heart sank at the thought that he’d only asked her out to get in her in bed. “I’m not having sex with you.” The words came out much louder than she’d intended, and a few heads turned their way. “Sorry. I just… If the only reason you asked me out again is because of kissing—”
“Hotter-than-hell kissing,” Ben corrected. “But that’s not why we’re here. You’d recognize that if you’d drop your firewalls long enough to—”
“Firewalls? What firewalls?”
He leaned back in his chair and simply stared at her for a moment. “You’ve been through hell this year, haven’t you? Maybe I’m expecting too much too soon.”
That made absolutely no sense to Mallory. “What exactly were you expecting, Ben?”
“A chance to do what?”
“Make you love me.”